Talking Points

Biden's State of the Union was a highlight reel of failures

If Russia had not invaded Ukraine, President Biden's first State of the Union address — paradoxically — might have been worse.

After some initial diffidence, Biden seems to have helped lead the West into a response to Russia's aggression that neither validates assaults on a weaker neighbor's sovereignty nor unleashes World War III. But in the absence of the initial strong condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, wasn't Biden's speech basically a recitation of things he has tried and failed to do?

Biden spent little time talking up his Supreme Court nominee, the first Black woman in the history of the United States tapped for such a role. He boasted about the one bill people appeared to have noticed he passed, the infrastructure package, and an "American Rescue Plan" that did not leave many voters feeling particularly rescued. He proceeded with a laundry list of legislative items he could not pass — evidently feeling that if he yelled about it louder, Democrats will either be obligated to find ways to pass his initiatives or voters seeking material benefits will be obliged to care.

Biden inveighed against opponents of Democratic voting bills, although his party has unified control of the federal government's elected branches. Still, he couldn't find adequate support for his gun control agenda, which he assures us does not violate anyone's Second Amendment rights. What about the rights of those who have repeatedly rebuffed these "commonsense reforms" on commonsense constitutional grounds?

And what if Americans don't think inflation will go away just because the president shouts Build Back Better's benefits at the top of his lungs? What if all of Biden's best-laid plans to convince everyone that the country is in much better shape are doomed simply because the public does not feel that way? Perhaps even the "mission accomplished" moment in Ukraine will ultimately be premature. 

This is supposed to be Biden's honeymoon period. But what if the American people have become acclimated to mediocrity at best, abject failure at worst? It will take more than Joe Manchin or a few errant Squad members to fix it.